Day Four: Sunday – New Blood Stage
Ah Sunday. A day of rest... not likely. Another day packed with mayhem? Probably.
First up is Reading-based rockers Black Emerald (6) who play a steady set to a hugely hungover crowd. Nothing terrible but nothing particularly eye-catching. Kremated (9), however, are in the mood to destroy. A horrible blend of old-school thrash and filthy punk is exactly what the New Blood stage wanted for lunch and the carnage is beautiful. I think the thrash-fest on the main stage today made them the perfect opening act and they don't fuck around when their 30 minutes comes around. Neon Halo (7) don't make anywhere near as much impact. It's a spirited showing of gnarly death metal but can't get anywhere near the previous bands manic endeavour.
Day Four: Sunday – Sophie Lancaster Stage
York mentalists RSJ (8) are as chaotic as ever and their ever-energetic performance lays siege to the Sophie stage in maddening style. RSJ are one of those bands that seems to creep onto every festival bill and nabs a plethora of support slots for various bands and it is easy to see why demand is so high. The tent goes beyond its capacity as robot loving metal loons Evil Scarecrow (9) take to the stage. Bands that try and incorporate humour into their sound can go one of two ways and it seems that the Nottingham nutters have managed to hit the nail on the head. With punters spilling out of every entrance, Evil Scarecrow manage to get every single person dancing along with 'Crabulon' and the one everyone's waiting for 'Robototron'. Hailing from the gentle slopes of Austria come a blasphemous darkness unlike any other. I, of course, mean Belphegor (8). The blood-soaked messengers of evil are celebrating 20 long, cold years in existence and their black metal massacre translates brilliantly inside the tent. Arguably, Dark Funeral would have benefited from not playing outside at around 2 o’clock. Headlining the Sophie stage as Bloodstock is within its final few hours are Tamworth old schooler metallers Wolfsbane (7). Blaze Bayley and co are on hand to give fans an hour of beer-swilling fun and nobody can deny that Wolfsbane certainly are a laugh. He may split opinion but this is a great, light-hearted alternative to the crushing bands on the main stage (more on that in a minute) and their last album was not too bad. The final band to grace the Sophie stage this glorious weekend are none other than death legends Dying Fetus (9). Bringing their sphincter-collapsing heaviness by the lorry load, Dying Fetus are making yet another statement to the young pretenders by doing what they do best. Immense song-writing and intense brutality are always going to be a winning formula and considering the calibre of the clash on the main stage, they still pull a sizeable crowd.
Day Four: Sunday – Ronnie James Dio Stage
It is with a tear in my eye that I trudge over to the main stage for the final day of antics at this marvellous festival. Occupying the morning shift are Irish party starters Gama Bomb (7), who lack that energetic fun-factor that they usual have in abundance. My money would be on an apocalyptic hangover but the songs are still as great as Philly's mental trousers. In a slight change in tone the stern expressions of Whitechapel (8) are up next. The much-loved triple guitar assault sounds as skull-splitting as ever and the Tennessee deathcore mob obliterate a 40 minute set. British metal's fast rising Sacred Mother Tongue (8) are carving out a reputation for their live shows and another dominant showing on a large outdoor stage sends their stock value even higher. The soulful tones of Darrin South and guitar master-class from lord of the shred, Andy James, make for a hugely entertaining watch. Fozzy (7) certainly have the stage show and pyro to go toe-to-toe with anyone but the lack of killer material won't keep them long in your memory. The chants of 'Y2J Y2J Y2J' would have you believe that it is the Chris Jericho show but the band deserve to be awarded on the merit of their own performance.
The prog-tinged beauty of Amorphis (7) maintains the quality level of the final day. Singer Tomi Joutsen sounds great, even if he appears to be singing into a hair-dryer, and they are a band who you can just stand and enjoy by soaking up the soothing folk metal majesty. In what is yet another 'you had to be there' moment of Bloodstock 2013, Exodus (9) create an absolute war zone. Calling on their years of experience, the thrash metal gods bestow a terrifying lesson in violence (see what I did there?) to the bloodied bodies of Catton Park. The infamous Exodus wall of death claims as many victims as usual and the circle never slows down... like ever. Ludicrous amounts of adrenaline flow through thousands and it is a privilege to watch the band who helped sculpt a genre. California groove monsters Devildriver (7) are as solid as you would expect but lack the tunes to win over the Bloodstock crowd.
The seemingly ever-touring Devildriver have the talent to work the big stages but there isn't anything that makes this special. Picking up the thrash baton again are the pioneering Anthrax (9) who enjoy another near flawless set. The stonewall classics that they bring to the party is mind boggling. 'I am the Law', 'Indians', 'Antisocial' and the list goes on. The new songs from the brilliant 'Worship Music' are as warmly received as the rest of their setlist. Joey Belladonna informs us that this is gig number 200 since the album launched which shows the demand for the thrash legends is still high. Speaking of thrash legends, another of the 'big 4' are about to headline the main stage. Slayer (8) haven't had the best run of luck lately with the passing of Jeff Hanneman and the split from drummer Dave Lombardo. So, emotions would certainly be charged when Messrs Araya and King make an appearance. When they kick into 'World Painted Blood' it seems as though their hearts aren't fully into it (can you blame them?) and although the setlist is awesome, the delivery fails to match their high standards. Paul Bostaph is back behind the kit and puts in a thunderous performance and it is great to see him back and past his injury problems. There is never really much acknowledgement towards the late, great Jeff Hanneman except the Heineken stylised banner and one very touching statement from Tom Araya. 'We all think we're invincible and one day we find out we are not'. A haunting moment steeped in emotion from a band obviously hurting at the core. Nevertheless, this is a once in a lifetime band headlining an outdoor stage and the hype may not have been lived up to it will still go down as a significant show. The Bloodstock team have really pulled this one out of the bag and given us all an experience unlike any other. This is the best metal festival that the UK has to offer and because of that, I know where I'll be in 2014. Bloodstock Open Air, it was a pleasure, same time next year?
Bloodstock: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
Emperor – Might as well start by looking ahead. At Bloodstock 2014 we will witness one of black metal's finest bands play a headline set and 'In The Nightside Eclipse' in its entirety no less! If you weren’t sold on BOA before then surely you are now?
Wall of Surf – Oh Municipal Waste, you crazy dudes. What will you do next? Create every security staff members nightmare for a start? 673 surfers in 45 minutes. That's 15 people every minute whilst on stage. One every four seconds! Staggering.
The New Blood Stage – A stroke of genius right here! The future of metal get their own stage to play. There were some real corkers to be seen here and if you ever find a gap in the day, it is never more than 2 minutes away from anywhere in the arena. Check out the future because you may be witnessing the next Slayer or Gojira.
Theft – I heard from a few of the owners/people running the merch booths that theft was a problem over the weekend. Some of the booths in particular are trying to raise money for charity and still had trouble! That and the ever present danger of stealing straight from the tents. Not much more can be done about it but we are all supposed to be united for one weekend by the music we love.
Prices – Again, not much can be done here. Festival food and drink is always expensive and the festival needs to turn some sort of profit. I just needed another 'bad' to make the numbers up.
Camping – I don't miss crashing on the floor at Bloodstock. The pampered life of a bed and shower lingered in my brain every night before passing out (usually in my tent).
The Hatefully Ugly:
Barrier collapse – This could have been an ugly moment. The barriers were moving under the weight of a Gojira pit and Joe Duplantier even appealed to the crowd to calm down as safety was becoming an issue. The barrier finally gave way when Lamb of God hit the stage and the 10 minutes spent repairing the barrier felt like an eternity. Fair play to the BOA crowd for showing some patience though.
Naked man with one trouser leg – No idea what I was witnessing here. I'm pretty sure I saw a man, totally naked, with just a single trouser leg surviving the weekend. When its time to party, he will party hard.